Lean in? 

I recently finished Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist manifesto Lean In. Ever since I started my maternity leave I’ve been feeling guilty about not working. I’ve had a job since I was 16 years old and being at home has been difficult for me. My husband recently called me a “stay at home mom” and my jaw hit the floor. I responded, “I’m not a stay at home mom…. I’m just on leave.” So I thought reading this book would give me a bit of perspective and advice on how to balance my career aspirations with a new baby. After finishing the book I was left feeling more conflicted than ever. 

First, I can not relate to Sandberg. She has more resources than I could ever dream of. I can’t commute via private jet, hire personal nannies, or even afford a basic daycare! My job doesn’t come with a large salary and never will.

Second, I have a hard time justifying choosing my career over time with my child. I don’t make much #teacherprobs and most of my paycheck would go to daycare costs. Also, being a head start teacher I’m literally paid to nurture and teach other people’s young children. So why would I get paid to do this while I’m paying someone else to nurture and teach my child? I can’t justify this decision. 

I’m not against working moms. I often find myself browsing job postings. I miss working! Being a teacher was such a large part of my identity. I think it’s a unique field where it’s not just a job. Especially teaching inner city, I feel like there’s a hole where I left and I’m not sure if other teachers are willing to fill that space. 

So do I lean into my career? Right now the answer is no. After our experience trying to conceive I’m not sure if we will ever have another child. I’ve accepted that. That also means I need to cherish these little moments and soak up as much as I can of my son’s baby days. I have my whole life to work. My son will only be a baby for so long. I’m planning on returning to the classroom when my son starts preschool.

This is a very personal decision for every mom. I’m not advocating for one choice or another, just the choice that works for you. Right now, I’m leaning into my family.

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To chart or not to chart

Besides our life returning back to normal, so has my uterus. I finally got my first cycle after pregnancy. 

There was something freeing in deleting my ovia fertility app from my phone. No more counting cycle days. No more ovulation tests. No more temperature taking. No more days past ovulation. NO MORE!

But with the return of Aunt Flo, the app has returned too. There are other period trackers out there but honestly I like the information and functions of ovia. It works for me. 

So I put in my data and then I saw the green dates highlighting my fertile window. My husband and I decided we would just live life without preventing pregnancy. We also aren’t planning on trying to conceive for a while if ever again. We’re moving forward under the guise of “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.” 

My husband has recently started dropping hints that he wants our son to have a sibling. And I’m not going to lie to myself, so do I. But I don’t expect our unexplained infertility to dissapear. I’m scared where this desire will take us. 

At this point I really don’t want to take fertility drugs ever again. It was an experience I’d rather not have again. But I don’t think we’ll be able to get pregnant on our own.

So why chart? I want to see what my body is doing on its own. Do I ovulate on my own? Are my cycles regular? That label of “unexplained infertility” still bothers me.

It’s empowering as a woman to understand your own body and that’s the perspective I’m coming from this time. Not trying to conceive.

Mom guilt 

Something I’ve learned in the last 6 days is that infertility can affect breastfeeding. Little did I know infertility would still play a role in how I raise my little one! 

Walt was 7lbs 14 oz at birth and 7lbs 7oz when we were discharged from the hospital on Monday. I took him for his first pediatrician appointment on Wednesday and he weighed in at 6lbs 15oz. This was more than 10% of his body weight which was just too much. 

The pediatrician immediately gave us formula to supplement what he wasn’t getting from me. The pediatrician also made me an appointment with their lactation consultant and arranged for me to rent a hospital grade breast pump. 

My session with the lactation consultant was great! She explained that women who have experienced infertility may have hormonal imbalances that cause a delay in breastmilk coming in, which was the case with me. I also have a low supply and inverted nipples which overall makes breastfeeding difficult. My little man just can’t get what he needs. 

So to solve the problem I’m pumping and giving him expressed breastmilk in a bottle. I’m able to give him enough from me I only supplement 4-6oz of formula a day. I like being able to visually confirm how much he’s eating but it’s far from an easy process. I’m tied to a breast pump every two hours which is difficult with my husband already back out of town for work. When I took Walt to the pediatrician yesterday he weighed 7lbs 15oz, which is fantastic! 

I’ve noticed I’m feeling very similar to how I felt trying to conceive. No matter how hard I try or how much I want to breastfeed, my body just isn’t cooperating. I feel betrayed by my body. I feel less than as a woman. I feel guilty as a mom who isn’t able to give her baby what he needs. 

I know I’m the only person judging myself and I’m entirely too hard on myself. As long as Walt is healthy and happy I’m doing my job. There is so much societal pressure to breastfeed but like getting pregnant, there are a lot of struggles not always talked about. 

41 week update

Really?! Can I just meet this baby already? 


I joked with my husband that the baby didn’t get in there the natural way and I guess he or she isn’t coming out the natural way either! 

Last week on my due date my doctor said I showed no signs of going into labor anytime soon. For some reason my cervix will not dilate. He said it reminded him of women who have had biopsies or other procedures done to their cervix. To my knowledge, I haven’t had any issues with my cervix in the past but being diagnosed with unexplained infertility makes me wonder if there is an unknown issue we could just be discovering. 

Anyways, he said we would discuss the options for delivery at my 41 week appointment, which is tomorrow. He talked about using cervidril and pitocin to jumpstart labor but he said it doesn’t always work. Then there’s a c-section. 

I’m going into my appointment with an open mind tomorrow. One thing I’ve learned from infertility is to not get your mind set too much on one approach and I guess it’s the same for delivery. I want whatever is best for this baby and momma! 

Kindness

My husband is a true man’s man. He flies airplanes for a living, hunts, loves to fish, has a woodworking shop in our garage, and enjoys a nice glass of scotch. He’s never been one to get emotional with people, especially strangers. 

I’ve noticed his attitude changing throughout our journey to start our family and even more so now that we’re weeks away from meeting baby. I guess I overlook it sometimes, but he’s experienced all of the ups and downs of trying to conceive too. Although his part was physically easier, he has been just as emotionally invested in this process as I have. 

Recently he was in Dallas for a week of recurrent training on his airplane. He is assigned a random partner to fly with in the simulator. After the introductions and small talk, my husband found out his simulator partner has two adopted children after years of trying to conceive. 

My husband shared our journey with him too. Like his sim partner, we have unexplained infertility and have experienced miscarriage. We feel incredibly lucky for the amazing doctors and technology that helped us start our family. 

As my husband wrapped up his training his partner gave my husband a card from him and his wife. It was a kind gesture to let us know they were rooting for us. They also gave us a gift card to buy a gift for the baby. 

As my husband told me this story I teared up. It’s amazing how there are people in the world you are meant to meet. I also appreciate the strong bond you instantly form with another couple who has experienced pregnancy loss or infertility. It’s such an isolating experience, but we instantly just get each other. 

It reminded me why I share our story. There are so many of us who have walked this road or are still trying to start a family whether through medication, IUI, IVF, surrogacy, foster care, or adoption.  I plan on passing along the kindness to the next couple I meet that knows this journey too. 

Planning for after baby

I’m a planner. Which doesn’t always suit my life being married to a charter pilot. Over the year I’ve learned to let go of fixed dates and plans. That didn’t always work with our struggles to get pregnant (for example: husband missing day of ovulation, missing IUI attempt) and I have a feeling this lifestyle isn’t always going to be compatible with baby either.

My husband and I have had many discussions about parenting. We’re not planning on attempting to have any more children after this. I’ve been trying to soak in every moment of this pregnancy and I plan on doing the same with the early days of infancy. My husband gets called out on flights on little notice and is gone for extended periods of time. We’ve decided there needs to be one parent who is always there for baby. And I know it’s going to be me. 

I don’t mind putting my career on hold for the time being because this baby has literally been years in the making. I worked too hard to get here. I’m planning on going on maternity leave this April and as of now returning to the classroom January 2017. My husband’s contract at work is up at the end of this year so we’ll have a better idea of what will come next for our family. 

There’s also the question of birth control after baby. My first thought is WHY? What’s the point? Obviously I don’t need it to prevent pregnancy.

But after thinking about it, I’m almost leaning toward taking some form of birth control. For the three years of not being on birth control, I absolutely hated that feeling at the end of my cycle. Am I late? Did it work this month?! Only to be disappointed. Over and over again. Although I won’t be temping or tracking ovulation, I know myself too well to think that voice has disappeared. That’s where the vicious questioning of unexplained infertility begins. Why couldn’t/can’t we get pregnant on our own? What is wrong with us? 

I feel like taking birth control is my own way of taking charge of my fertility (or infertility). I’ll know for certain that this baby is and will be our one and only without a phantom dream of getting pregnant naturally. 

But I guess I have a few months to think about all of this. 

Always the 1 in 8

Recently I attended a breastfeeding class’s sponsored by the hospital where I’ll deliver. I planned on attending alone because my husband is often out of town and honestly how much can he help with breastfeeding? 

As I walked to the elevator, a pregnant couple happily chatted behind me. She joked about her husband being the only man in the class tonight. I politely smiled and sat alone. 

We were a few minutes early so the instructor made small talk with the couple. They were so happy to share about their perfectly timed birth (being teachers and taking the end of the school year and summer off). And how easy it was and on their first try! 

I tried not to roll my eyes. But I instantly felt those same feelings from the days where it felt like everyone was pregnant while I was all jacked up on clomid and letrozole. I told myself I was just being cranky and to forget about it. 

After class I called my husband to catch up at the end of the day. He mentioned talking to one of his college buddies (and new dad) who made the comment, “so one and done for you guys, huh?” 

My husband doesn’t read into things like I do, but this comment got under his skin. He responded that this baby was a miracle for us and having more children isn’t really up to us (more so a higher power). This quickly shut the conversation down. 

What I don’t understand is how quickly family and friends forget everything we did to get to this point. This baby was three years in the making. We experienced loss during the process. There were a lot of downs before this one glorious high! 

I am grateful for every. single. day. of this pregnancy. Even the moments where I’m hugging the toilet or hobbling across my classroom from sciatic pain. None of it compares to the emotional pain of infertility. Even if my loved ones are quick to forget our experience, for me it’s still so fresh. 

Does infertility forever change you? Will I always feel calloused and jaded?